New York Giants should have six new starters on defense

The New York Giants open training camp on July 28 at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Here's a starting lineup projection:

Quarterback (Eli Manning): Same as it ever was. Manning hasn't missed a game since he became the starter during his 2004 rookie season. He threw a career-high 35 touchdown passes in 2015, and his completion percentage in two years with new head coach Ben McAdoo as offensive coordinator is 62.8 -- notably higher than his career completion percentage of 59.3.

Running back (Rashad Jennings): Lots of competition here, and Shane Vereen will replace the starter on third downs and in the two-minute drill. But while Jennings could eventually lose the job to rookie Paul Perkins, that's not likely to happen soon. After averaging 5.47 yards per carry over the final five games of 2015, Jennings heads into camp as the clear starter.

Fullback (Will Johnson): Johnson missed only one game in four seasons with Pittsburgh and is a player the Giants believe can line up in a variety of spots, including tight end. His versatility and his skills as a blocker likely give him the edge over Nikita Whitlock, who was one of the fun stories of 2015 after he made his mark as a substitute defensive tackle.

Wide receiver (Odell Beckham Jr.): A bona fide superstar in bloom. In 27 NFL games, Beckham has 187 catches for 2,755 yards and 25 touchdowns. His goal last year was to play all 16, and only the late-season suspension stopped him. Expect continued brilliance as long as he keeps himself on the field.

Wide receiver (Sterling Shepard): Tough to assume anything at this point about Victor Cruz's availability or effectiveness, and the Giants run out of three-receiver sets the majority of the time anyway. That means a lot of opportunity for rookie Shepard, whose experience in four years at Oklahoma has Giants coaches believing they can use him all over the formation.

Tight end (Will Tye): Another spot where the competition is too close to call among many candidates. Larry Donnell was the starter a year ago and is back from his neck injury. Rookie Jerell Adams looked good in the spring. But we'll call Tye the incumbent after he averaged 11 yards per catch while filling in for Donnell in the second half of 2015.

Left tackle (Ereck Flowers): He had his share of struggles as a rookie, but he would point out that he was playing hurt, as he sprained his ankle in Week 2 and it never had time to fully recover. Flowers' advancement as a pass protector will be a key part of the Giants' story this season, one way or the other.

Right tackle (Marshall Newhouse): Sure, they have been poking around for upgrades. And someone like Eugene Monroe could still be a possibility. But Newhouse heads to camp with the job, a chip on his shoulder and more faith from the coaching staff than he has from the fan base.

Left guard (Justin Pugh): The 2013 first-round pick is settled in after moving from tackle to guard a year ago. He's the backup left tackle if Flowers gets hurt, and in the meantime the Giants will count on him for reliable production on the interior.

Right guard (John Jerry): Brought in as a backup two years ago, Jerry has started 24 games the past two seasons and is a favorite of the coaching staff. I don't expect the Giants to look to upgrade at this position, even as they scope out the market at tackle.

Center (Weston Richburg): The 2014 second-round pick heads into his third full season as a starter and his second at center. This is the first time since 2013 that Eli Manning starts the season with the same center with which he finished the previous one.

Defensive end (Olivier Vernon): He had 29 sacks in four years with the Dolphins, but the Giants gave him a five-year, $85 million contract in the hope that he was about to make the leap into the elite echelon of pass-rushers. They're likely to line him up at right defensive end and send him to do battle with left tackles all year.

Defensive end (Jason Pierre-Paul): Everyone knows about the hand, but Pierre-Paul believes the surgery he had right after the season will allow him to play without that heavy club wrap and make him a more effective tackler. The Giants also believe the time that has passed since last July 4, and Pierre-Paul's presence in their offseason program, will pay dividends in their pass rush.

Defensive tackle (Damon Harrison): Rated as the best run-stuffing defensive tackle in the league, Harrison joins the Giants as part of their defensive spending spree. His former team, the Jets, thought $9.25 million a year was too much for a player who comes out of the game on third downs. The Giants believe the work Harrison does on first and second downs will put their opponents in longer and tougher third-down situations.

Defensive tackle (Johnathan Hankins): A year ago, Hankins was coming off a seven-sack season and hopes were high. Still just 24 and coming off an injury-shortened season, Hankins should form a potent run-stuffing duo along with Harrison and maybe even get in some pass-rush work if the new guy can eat up blockers.

Strongside linebacker (Devon Kennard): The Giants love what Kennard can do -- especially as a pass-rush helper -- when he's on the field. But he has missed 11 games during his first two years in a league, so he enters camp as a question mark. Keeping the 2014 fifth-round pick healthy could be essential for what the Giants want to do on defense.

Middle linebacker (Keenan Robinson): This could be anyone from a group that includes Robinson, rookie B.J. Goodson, 2015 starter Jasper Brinkley or newcomer Kelvin Sheppard. The Giants believe Robinson has the skills and the smarts to handle this very important job in Steve Spagnuolo's defense, but he has had health issues too. Wide-open competition here.

Weakside linebacker (Jonathan Casillas): A lot of options here, including some of the guys named in the paragraph above. Last year's starter, J.T. Thomas, is also still around and could keep the job with a strong camp. But Thomas has (broken record alert!) injury concerns after a year in which he missed four games, and Casillas goes into camp in the lead here.

Cornerback (Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie): His speed and his coverage ability make him as good as anyone in the league when he's on the field, but he has frustrated coaches and fans alike by floating in and out of games with various unspecified physical ailments. The Giants hope he has one more good year in him with first-round pick Eli Apple waiting in the wings.

Cornerback (Janoris Jenkins): Another of the big-money additions from this offseason, Jenkins arrives with a five-year, $62.5 million contract and 10 career interceptions -- five of which he returned for touchdowns. He's an electrifying playmaker who should bring a lot of excitement to the back end of the defense.

Strong safety (Landon Collins): Thrown into the fire as a rookie, Collins struggled in coverage and with some aspects of the playbook. But he was clearly a helper against the run, and if the Giants can find someone reliable enough in coverage to man their other safety spot, they should be able to keep Collins up close where he can showcase his strengths.

Free safety (Darian Thompson): Another wide-open camp competition, with promising names from the past such as Nat Berhe, Bennett Jackson, Mykkele Thompson and Cooper Taylor in the mix if any of them can get/stay healthy. Darian Thompson, the rookie from Boise State, showed well in spring and has as good a chance as any of them to start.

Kicker (Josh Brown): Brown has made 54 of 58 field goals the past two years, including 19 of 22 from 40 yards or longer and 7 of 7 from 50 yards or longer.

Punter (Brad Wing): Odell Beckham's college teammate and good friend just signed a three-year contract to stick around after a promising first year with the Giants.

Long snapper (Zak DeOssie): As there must always be a Stark in Winterfell, there must always be a DeOssie in East Rutherford. The Giants missed him when he was out with an injury in the second half of the season. Fellow Ivy Leaguer Tyler Ott could give him a push in camp, but I think DeOssie sticks it out.